PostScript is honored to be sharing a page today with Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and unimpeachable moral authority. Unimpeachable moral authority, though, isn’t what it once was: If you image-Google his last name, you get a picture of a weasel. On behalf of humanity, Mr. Wiesel, PostScript is sorry. AGAIN.
(We at PostScript spoke to Mr. Wiesel earlier this week on the phone; he asked us the question we have always hoped he would ask, if ever we spoke to him: “Is Fred in?” Fred is our boss.)
(We at PostScript also hope Wiesel never Googles OUR last name, which happens to be the same as one of Hitler’s generals.)
But now we have wiped the stars from our eyes and checked out the comments section of Wiesel’s article. Unimpeachable moral authority isn’t doing so well there either.
Wiesel wrote in The Post today on the conundrum of what to do about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who apparently isn’t going to stop killing his own innocent civilians without some sort of inducement. Wiesel lists and rejects many possible solutions, all of which are costly, ineffective or not going to happen: doing nothing, military intervention, United Nations resolutions; economic sanctions, diplomatic expulsions. Wiesel proposes an alternative that he says might work: threatening to arrest Assad for war crimes.
This solution relies on moral authority, which, as we foreshadowed, doesn’t impress the commenters. The problem is that everyone has to agree on moral authority for it to work, and commenters count as everyone.
Indy77 doesn’t think it will work, citing the case of another national leader, who is still in power four years after being charged with genocide:
Charging Assad with war crimes would be appropriate, but I don’t think it will change much. All we have to do is look to Sudan for proof.
Cdgraves points out that this would work only with an implied threat of force:
Not to discount Elie Wiesel’s expertise on conflict . . . but just who could credibly threaten to arrest Assad except a formidable European or American military force?
Assad is under greater duress knowing we could go OBL on him, so why would arrest scare him?
And Crose1 argues that intervening is never as simple as it seems:
Basically what you are saying is that we have no solution to the crisis. Assad will never consent to an arrest, this is just a proxy for a ‘pinpoint’ military invasion. While we lament the tragedy in Syria, we have many models for how not to address it and none really for a positive solution.
Agh. Well, what COULD work? Anyone?
There is a very capable military force in the region.
PostScript thinks that might be sarcasm.
How come nobody is calling on the Israelis to solve the problem?
We will give the final word here to paultaylor1 because his words moved us. If Mr. Wiesel, a writer of enormous compassion, can’t get agreement from the masses, he at least deserves a literary response:
What could be more useless than to tell Assad he’ll be held accountable when his time comes?
He knows it. He’s seen what happened to Saddam Hussein and to Hosni Mubarak. And he knows his people will tear him apart even before the world gets to him. He even knows his charred, torn remains will be fed to the slum dogs. And he just doubles down, in his sadistic genocide.
So tell him, if you will, what will happen to him. There’s no chance it will not happen. He cannot take back what he has done to his people. It’s too late. Even if he abides by a ceasefire, it’s too late for him. And he knows the world will never get their chance at him when he’s finally captured. The Syrians will be in charge of his final reckoning.
It is too late for Bashar al-Assad. He’s dog meat. And he knows it.